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Beijing And Beyond: Eating (And Spending) Our Way Through China, With Personal Reflections On China’s Coming-Of-Age Criminal Justice System... And Of My Fellow Travelers, 1981

307 pages3 hours


In 1981, I traveled with a group of criminal justice professionals to China — or, as I like to describe it, "30 professionals and 1 anti-professional: me!" China was just opening up to the outside world. Mao Tse Tung had died only a few years before, and China's economic boom was only just being ignited. Not only was there no smog in Beijing, there were almost no cars at all. We saw wonderful things, like the Children's Palace in Shanghai, as well as scenes as depressing as both the Beijing and Shanghai prisons were, for example, or the reform school where teenage girls sang for us, tears streaming down their faces. Beyond the glimpses we were provided into a criminal justice system that was in the process of being recreated in the wake of the destructive Cultural Revolution, this is also a memoir of what it is like to travel with 30 well-heeled Americans who not only worry that there may not be enough "official work-related" visits to justify the tax write-offs they are calculating, but who also spend, spend, spend their way through China, filled with an embarrassing sense of self-importance — quick to complain when our Chinese hosts didn't quite appreciate just how important they thought themselves to be. It is based on journals I kept daily during the trip, and therefore reads as a current travelog, replete with photographs, with a difference — it being China in 1981.

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